That lawsuit we mentioned yesterday was filed today. The plaintiff is a former minor leaguer, former training academy owner and former anti-aging clinic owner, Neiman Nix. He sued Major League Baseball in New York today alleging that it and its investigators ruined his anti-aging and supplement business via heavy-handed and, in some cases, illegal acts in the course of the Biogenesis investigation.
Nix, who was a 29th round draft pick of the Reds in 1998 but whose career ended early due to arm injuries, operated a Florida anti-aging and supplement business called DNA Sports Labs. Nix says that during the Biogenesis investigation Major League Baseball’s investigators — including those who were subsequently fired following allegations of unprofessional and possibly illegal conduct — threatened him and his business with criminal charges, spread false allegations about him and his businesses and claimed to others to be DEA and FBI agents in the course of doing so. Nix says all of this was done with the knowledge of and at the direction of Rob Manfred, who led the investigation on behalf of Bud Selig and Major League Baseball.
Nix further claims that MLB investigators hacked into and/or caused the closure of his company’s social media accounts, YouTube account and PayPal, which he used as his primary mode of advertising and payment, forcing them to be taken down and his business to subsequently close. Finally, he claims that MLB investigators falsely accused him of selling performance-enhancing drugs to major league players, which harmed his reputation and ultimately ruined his business.
Nix’s complaint alleges that this was not the first time MLB has messed with him. Before opening DNA Labs, Nix owned a training facility for unsigned players in Clearwater, Florida. Nix claims that in 2011, at the prodding of a disgruntled former employee, MLB investigators falsely accused him of claiming to employ real major league scouts in order to lure clients to his academy. Once this lie spread, Nix claims, it caused his business to tank and he had to sell his controlling stake.
Nix previously sued Major League Baseball in Florida in 2014 under many of these same facts. Nix claimed that the attacks on his social media accounts — accomplished primarily by MLB investigators falsely informing YouTube, PayPal and other services on which DNA Labs depended that Nix was associated with Biogenesis — took place in retaliation for Nix filing the Florida suit. That lawsuit was dismissed without prejudice. You can read the entire suit at the embedded link below. I would not expect Major League Baseball to have any substantive comment on the suit, if indeed it does comment on it at all.
As for the merits: it’s hard to say based on just a complaint. These things always turn on the facts, and presenting actual evidence is not the purpose of a complaint. It’s worth noting, however, that Nix is not the first person to accuse Major League Baseball and its investigators of misconduct during the Biogensis investigation and, again, its lead investigators on the Biogenesis case were subsequently fired. Moreover, going back to the Mitchell Report, Major League Baseball has a history of closely associating itself with law enforcement and hiring former law enforcement officers in the course of what are, essentially, internal company investigations. It’s not crazy to assume, therefore, that at some point its investigators either created the impression that they were, in fact, members of law enforcement or allowed that impression to persist, much to their advantage. And, allegedly, in violation of the law.
The claims Nix asserts — tortious interference with business relationships — are often hard to win. But they’re not frivolous. The mud through which Major League Baseball trudged in order to nail Alex Rodriguez and the other ballplayers at the end of the Biogenesis investigation was pretty thick. It’s not at all shocking, therefore, that Major League Baseball is now accused of having a great deal of it on its shoes.
UPDATE: Major League Baseball has released a statement in response to the lawsuit:
“The lawsuit filed today by Neiman Nix against MLB repeats many of the same allegations he asserted in a Florida lawsuit that was dismissed in 2014. Mr. Nix’s new attorney, Vincent White, has in the past made outrageous claims about MLB. Mr. White’s purported source for this lawsuit is a disgruntled former MLB employee who was terminated for cause. Mr. White has been threatening to file this lawsuit for months in an attempt to coerce MLB into paying his client. MLB considers the allegations in this lawsuit, including the allegations relating to the hacking of DNA Sport Lab’s social media accounts, to be sanctionable under New York law. Other than noting that in Paragraph 40 of the Complaint Mr. Nix admits to selling products purportedly containing at least one banned performance-enhancing substance (IGF-1), MLB has no further comment on this frivolous lawsuit.”
Saying it’s “sanctionable” is a shot at the lawyer who filed it, saying that it was unethical for him to file the suit, not merely that the suit has no merit. That’s way beyonf the usual rhetoric you see. So buckle up, kids. This should be a bumpy ride.